To younger black / brown graduates, talents, professionals dreaming of a successful career,
Being Black in corporate Brussels, how are you potentially perceived?
Racism and racial discriminations at work
Did you know that “20% of Belgians declared not to be willing to have a colleague of foreign origin and even less as a boss?” according to Unia’s 2012 ‘Diversity Barometer’.
Someone told me “with what you are posting online, you will never find a job again in Belgium” 🙂 coming from a black / brown person, how deep is that? How is it called; alienation?
Side note: Oh by the way, today is the anniversary of Frantz Fanon’s death. See some of his books below. (credit: Image of Fanon’s books by @HEIGHTYEIGHT)
I keep in mind what a former colleague told me about a black / brown graduate, intelligent, nice, hard-working guy, fluent in Dutch, French, English, who asked him about his career’s future:
“Does the colour of my skin represent an obstacle to get recruited in your company?”
By now, you should be aware of why I care and why I am doing this. My motivation is not to go against individuals and label people as racists. I am not going after individuals – unless you happen to have CEO as job title.
I am interested in systems and how these impact corporate strategy, workplaces and workforces.
What is the perception of us?
So, to you younger black / brown graduates, talents, professionals, get to know how the racism, racial discrimination and stereotypes that you may have to face in corporate Brussels and Belgium differ from the racism faced by other racialised groups.
Read the ‘Diversity Barometer’ and also the research from Unia on racism in Belgium from 2011 or 2013.
Also check the recent (FRA) European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights’ report “Being Black in the EU“.
With our black / brown skin, our African heritage, racial stereotypes in corporate Belgium about us is not fear. It seems to be paternalism!
The perception that some / many may have of us (without being conscious of it) is that we are nice, like kids and if/when we are part of a workforce, our expected role is to execute orders but we are not considered as professionals, experts with the skills and career paths to leadership positions.
Something is broken for us in the labour market. Especially if you are a black / brown woman. Please remember, you are not the problem! If I may, one of your main tasks is to figure out:
- Who are you (your identity, your values, the types of companies and environments where you would feel comfortable, productive)?
- and which are your personal strengths?
On your journey to conquer corporate Brussels, to reach your BIG dreams, success and happiness, I am sharing this not to get you doubting and deflated.
If you have never been told this before or if you were not aware of these dynamics, then, how will you strategize, what do you bring to the table of corporate Brussels / Belgium to beat these odds?
Between us, some of the key metrics they are found of are for instance profit / profitability, higher margins, generating more sales / revenue, customer / supplier satisfaction…
If you happen to have questions, suggestions and/or are willing to take this conversation off-line, feel welcome, drop me a message.
Grégory Luaba Déome
Contributing to more inclusive workplaces
More from me on Ethnostratification and Diversity Strategy:
Born in Congo, I am committed to developing more inclusive workplaces. My passion is to enable others to achieve their potential and to advance equity in corporate Brussels.
About eight years ago, a friend told me something like “in my company, they consider me as a high potential. I participated to the annual event of our industry, 500 people – la crème de la crème – and I was the only non-white in the room. A journalist even came to me and discreetly asked “what about upward mobility”? The problem is that in our industry, the majority of the workers at the bottom of the pyramid are non-whites. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the whiter it becomes.”
What is systematically happening in the mid-to-senior executive levels that you’re not reflecting the cultural diversity of the city that you’re in?